Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017
The January 25-26, 2017, Kern County Homeless Collaborative (KCHC) Point in Time (PIT) Count Committee reports that 810 people are known to be experiencing homelessness—sleeping outside, in emergency shelters or in transitional housing. A 47% decrease was reflected in Count since the first Kern Count in 2007 [2007-1,537]; and 24% reduction (257 people) since January 2016. [2016-1,067]
Regarding the declining count KCHC Board Chair Carlos Baldovinos said “As the Continuum of Care we credit the decrease in part to: new housing vouchers from two HUD funded projects – a Housing Authority “Bonus Project” for chronically homeless households, expansion of Bakersfield Homeless Center’s Casa Nueva permanent supportive housing program, and new last year was the family stabilization Resources Rapid Rehousing vouchers from the Department of Human Services that have also made a tremendous impact.” He added that as programs are added and refined, and coordinated entry efforts increase we hope to continue to see declining homelessness.” Baldovinos cautioned that “prevention is and housing aftercare is crucial. More people need to be housed than become or return to being homeless.”
The Point in Time Count is an effort that takes place across the country though a federally mandated 24-hour, biennial count in communities who receive funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Continuums of Care (CoC’s) in over 400 communities nationwide, are required to hold Counts in January, statistically the month that the most people are homeless across the nation.
Each person surveyed is asked if their responses can be reviewed
for eligibility, and if they would like to be contacted for services.
The PIT Count is used to measure trends, homeless services are adjusted based on the need determined, and the community is kept informed about the work of ending homelessness. Businesses who invest in community e.g. affordable housing or medical care, local planning departments, and state and federal governments use the data to develop action and consolidated plans. The Counts determine funding and are variables for competitive grants e.g. the upcoming No Place Like Home funding application effort of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (formerly Kern County Mental Health).
The methodology of Kern’s PIT Count changed when HUD emphasized a “dusk to dawn” (8pm Wednesday to 8am Thursday) process to make communities more comparable. This was a change from Kern’s “dusk to dusk” strategy (5pm Wednesday to 4pm Thursday). Volunteer surveyor exit interviews, had also recommended an earlier PIT in order to survey before people were up and about for the day. Advocates feel this provides a true “snapshot” of homelessness in Kern.
Baldovinos commented, saying “This group of Collaborative members are not afraid of out of the box solutions. We try new things, and are always working to improve processes. Each year the PIT Count Committee does everything they can – and they work all year around – to make the Count as efficient as possible.”
The Collaborative is thankful to the 150 volunteers and 12-member Committee who made the process possible which impacts millions of dollars in received grant dollars towards the efforts of ending and preventing homelessness.
NOTE: Coordinators emphasize the Count is not a full and finite count of all people who are homeless. Rather, it is a snapshot of a single night to gauge homeless trends and measure outcomes. Information gathered reflects the number of those living in homelessness as defined by HUD.
ADDITIONAL NEWS OF NOTE FROM THE 2016 COUNT TO 2017:
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR COMMENT, PLEASE CONTACT:
Christine Lollar, United Way of Kern County – Collaborative Applicant 661 834 2734